Saturday, March 31, 2007

Guidelines for Reading this Blog...

Most of the blogs I've seen are the equivalent of an online journal that discuss the joys and trials of one's daily existence or interests. You should know, this blog isn't organized on that principle. This blog is primarily a means of bringing together specific articles and viewpoints that I've found helpful in understanding and moving through my own spiritual emergency. It's been structured to present entries in chronological order (as opposed to typical blog layout wherein the most recent entry is on "the top") and is currently complete. I won't be adding any more entries to the blog aside from changing out the featured quote from time to time. Depending on why you're here, it might be helpful for you -- the reader -- to follow some brief guidelines to increase your reading satisfaction.

  • You're aimlessly surfing for some good reading material...

    Just go ahead and read the blog in typical blog fashion wherein you start at the top and work your way through to the bottom or disinterest, whichever comes first. I've looked for well-written articles and personal accounts and I've even added some pretty pictures to help hold your attention. Note that most of the articles are mere excerpts, clicking the link below the article will lead to the complete online original. I hope you'll enjoy my efforts and perhaps learn something new while you're here. Either way, thanks for stopping in.

  • You're looking for some specific information...

    Most likely, according to one of the following topics: Spiritual Emergency; Shamanism; Mysticism; Gnosticism; Alchemy; Transformational or Personal Crisis; Schizophrenia; Psychosis; Trauma; PTSD; The Hero's Journey; Spiritual Awakening; Ego Death; The Dark Night of the Soul; Kundalini; Carl Jung; John Weir Perry; Stanislav Grof; Christina Grof; R.D. Laing; Loren Mosher; Maureen Roberts; David Lukoff; The Black Madonna; Kali; Sophia.

    Below my profile on the right is a table of contents that includes all entries. Scroll through it, find the entry that interests you, and click on the link. Alternatively, use the "Search this Blog" feature at the top of the page. Happy reading, I hope you find what you were looking for, and thanks for stopping by.

  • You've gone through or are currently undergoing a transformative psychospiritual crisis that includes extreme states of consciousness. Alternatively, you may know someone who has been through or is going through the same and you want to better understand the process so you're more capable of providing support...

    You're the individual this blog was specifically created for.

    I recognize that those going through a spiritual emergency are often isolated and misunderstood. Frequently, they can't afford to enter into a therapeutic relationship or may find the one they're in is not that helpful to them. In addition, their health insurance may limit the type or quantity of care they'll be permitted to seek. They also may be incapable of working during or for many months after their spiritual emergency. As a result, they may not have any medical coverage whatsoever.

    For that reason I've sought out free articles on the internet and organized them here, in one central location. Occasionally, I quote directly from a book I own if I've found it to be exceptionally insightful. In particular, I highly recommend The Stormy Search for the Self and Spiritual Emergency, both written/edited by Stanislav and Christina Grof, as well as Trials of the Visionary Mind by John Weir Perry.

    Although you are welcome to read in usual blog fashion or to pick and choose your reading entries selectively, I recommend you begin with the very first entry and work your way through to the end; concepts that are presented in one entry are often fleshed-out in later entries and this method can probably best present you with the "big picture".

    Bear in mind, this blog is only a starting point and is undeniably flavored by my own experience. Nonetheless, it's my hope that you'll find something here that is helpful to you -- feel free to follow up on that which you find helpful and discard that which you don't. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to come back as many times as you feel is necessary.

    Please note: I am not a therapist, guru, shaman, or personal coach. I can't give you advice on medication, channel departed loved ones, predict your future, or help you write a paper for your class. I'm not here to gain your sympathy or your admiration, nor am I seeking a significant other, new friend, or book deal. I am simply an ordinary human being who is sharing a slice of a powerful personal experience and what I have found most insightful or helpful for interpreting, integrating, and moving beyond that experience.

    Special thanks to Clancy Cavnar who has graciously allowed me the use of a number of her images to illustrate this blog. Please check out the full range of her stunning artwork at

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    See also, my companion blog: Spiritual Recovery

  • Sunday, November 12, 2006

    The Tibetan Book of the Dead

    The Tibetan Book of the Dead is pragmatically and existentially directed toward the "dead" who are still living, and not especially toward those who are clinically dead. To reveal this less obvious meaning, we need to examine more closely some of the key features of the manifest meaning, for these indicate that both the existence of gods and the existence of an after-death bardo realm are questionable. With respect to the reality of the gods and demons that are experienced in the after-death state, we have noted that the text informs the disembodied consciousness that these deities have no substantial reality of their own. Indeed, this is the central illuminating principle of the text. Two memorable excerpts are as follows:

    Through the instruction of his guru he will recognize them [the visionary deities] as his own projections, the play of the mind, and he will be liberated. It is just like seeing a stuffed lion, for instance: he feels very frightened if he does not know that it is really only a stuffed lion, but if someone shows him what it is he is astonished and no longer afraid. So here too he feels terrified and bewildered when the blood-drinking deities appear with their huge bodies and thick limbs, filling the whole of space, but as soon as he is shown he recognises them as his own projections or as yidams; the luminosity that arises later, mother and son, merge together, and, like meeting a man he used to know very well, the self-liberating luminosity of his own mind spontaneously arises before him.

    [W]hatever you see, however terrifying it is, recognise it as your own projection; recognise it as the luminosity, the natural radiance of your own mind.

    These excerpts confirm that the gods and demons experienced in the after-death state, although they appear with a reality equal to the material objects in the world of the living, are indeed believed to be nothing more than manifestations of the dead person's own psychological states.(6) They are merely symbolic forms that express conditions of either psychological liberation or psychological bondage and suffering. This suggests that the path to enlightenment in no way depends upon favors or obstructions issued from the realm of the gods and demons that populate the after-death state; the path depends upon initially recognizing the images of the gods as manifestations of oneself in various possible and actual forms. Self-recognition alone initiates the path to more satisfactory levels of consciousness.

    Source: The therapeutic psychology of 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead'

    See also:
  • Alternative Cosmologies and Altered States
  • The Varieties of Primal Experience

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    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Ego Death

    Death, ego death

    Beyond this experience, all light disappears, all awareness ceases. There is no perception of anything; there is simply no experience. When the soul is completely concentrated on the absolute there is nothing to perceive, for to perceive total darkness is not to perceive. Light is the awareness that arises out of this total darkness, revealing that the absolute is prior to light, awareness, and consciousness. This experience of cessation is the experience of complete ego death, for it is going beyond the world of manifestation, beyond even awareness of the world of manifestation. There is no awareness of self or soul, for there is no awareness at all, without this being unconsciousness or sleep. When awareness looks out again, which we experience as the return of awareness, the manifest universe reappears. With the return of awareness the logos appears as the displaying of time and space, and all the phenomena of the universe. We are here the absolute, the luminous night, witnessing appearance arising within it, out of it, but we still experience ourselves as the immense stillness and stupendous silence underlying all existence and all appearance. We feel fresh and clear, as if our consciousness has dipped into the cleansing energies of the source, and returned renewed and rejuvenated. This is similar to the rejuvenation we experience after deep sleep, except we are here clear and awake, bright and lucid. (The Inner Journey Home, p 382)


    These issues tend to arise naturally in life, especially during transitions and intense events, but they also are brought forth intensely due to the inner work. They arise especially as the soul learns to penetrate and transcend her ego structure. To follow our example, when the soul begins to see the limitation of structure and experiences herself as presence, the structure begins to reveal its nature as a mental construct characterized by past conditioning, ideas, memories, etc. The soul begins to experience an inner emptiness, a meaninglessness, a dread of falling apart, and terror of death and annihilation. These experiences of falling apart or being annihilated actually come to pass as the structures dissolve. The soul experiences disintegration and dissolution, disorientation, and a loss of identity; she feels lost and despondent. These existential crises are actually elements of some stages of working through ego structures that then lead to deeper realizations of true nature, moving to timelessness and formlessness. (The Inner Journey Home, p 231)

    Source: Ego Death

    See Also:
  • Forms of Spiritual Emergency
  • Psychosis & Ego Collapse
  • How To Produce An Acute Schizophrenic Break

  • Sunday, July 09, 2006

    The Process of Individuation - The Shadow

    Image Source

    Within Jungian psychology there is a concept known as The Shadow. Most of us encounter our own shadows in the form of projection. That is to say, we disown the characteristics and behaviors we cannot stand about ourselves and project them onto others. We then insist that they carry our shadow for us and may even punish them for the things we hate about ourselves. One example of this might be a minister who openly despises gays while privately engaging in closeted homosexual activity.

    Those who cannot accept their shadow will reject it in favor of embracing their Persona. The persona is the idealized image we present of who we really are. And still ... The Shadow Knows when we are lying to ourselves and those around us. The shadow contains our every fear, our every terror, it knows our every truth -- especially the ones we can't stand to face about ourselves.

    Kali was in my shadow. When it became too painful to see the things I did not want to see, she gave me her eyes so I could bear to look. I like to think she still sneaks them into me when I'm not looking.

    ... The Black Goddess Kali, the terrible one of many names, "difficult of approach," whose stomach is a void and so can never be filled, and whose womb is giving birth forever to all things ...

    -- Joseph Campbell

    See also:
  • Kali - The Divine Mother
  • Shadow Projection
  • Jung On The Shadow
  • The Individuation Process: The Shadow
  • Encountering Darkness
  • Jungian Motifs in the Lord of the Rings: The Shadow
  • May It Be
  • Dancing in the Flames

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  • August, and Everything After

    This was one of those songs that got stuck in my head long before August, and Everything After ever arrived...

    The Rain King

    When I think of heaven
    Deliver me in a black-winged bird
    I think of flying ...
    Down in your sea of pins and feathers
    And all other instruments of
    Faith and Sex and God
    In the Belly of a Black-Winged Bird.

    Don't try to feed me
    'Cause I've been here before
    And I deserve a little more

    I belong, in the service of the Queen
    I belong, anywhere but in between
    She's been crying, I've been thinking
    And I am, the Rain King

    And I said mama, mama, mama,
    Why am I so alone?
    I can't go outside, I'm scared
    I might not make it home
    But I'm alive, I'm alive
    But I'm sinking in
    If there's anyone at home at your place, darlin'
    Why don't you invite me in?

    Don't try to plead me
    'Cause I've been there before
    And I deserve a little more

    I belong, in the service of the Queen
    I belong, anywhere but in between
    She's been lying, I've been sinking
    And I am the Rain King

    Hey, I only want the same as anyone
    Tender sonnets waiting for the Sun
    Oh, it seems Night endlessly
    begins and ends
    After all the Dreaming
    I come
    ~ Home Again ~

    When I think of heaven
    Deliver me in a black-winged bird
    I think of dying ...
    Lay me down in a field of
    Flame and Heather
    Render up my Body, Into
    ~ The Burning Heart of God ~
    In the Belly of a Black-Winged Bird

    Don't try to bleed me
    'Cause I've been here before
    And I deserve a little more

    I belong, in the service of the Queen
    I belong, anywhere but in between
    She's been dying and I've been drinking
    And I Am
    The Rain King

    The Counting Crows

    [* A rain king is a shaman.]

    See also:
  • The Shaman Sickness
  • Case Example: Traditional Shamanic Initiation
  • Shamanism & Schizophrenia

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  • The Wasteland

    An excerpt from a poem which got stuck early in this process...


    APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.
    Winter kept us warm, covering
    Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
    A little life with dried tubers.
    Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
    With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
    And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
    And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
    Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
    And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
    My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
    And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
    Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
    In the mountains, there you feel free.
    I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

    What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
    Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
    You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
    A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
    And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
    And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
    There is shadow under this red rock,
    (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
    And I will show you something different from either
    Your shadow at morning striding behind you
    Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
    I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

    Frisch weht der Wind
    Der Heimat zu.
    Mein Irisch Kind,
    Wo weilest du?

    'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
    'They called me the hyacinth girl.'
    —Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
    Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
    Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
    Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
    Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
    Od' und leer das Meer.

    The Wasteland

    T.S. Eliot

    See also: The Gravity of Love

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